The Biblical Role Of The Evangelist -- By: William W. Combs

Journal: Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal
Volume: DBSJ 007:1 (Fall 2002)
Article: The Biblical Role Of The Evangelist
Author: William W. Combs

The Biblical Role Of The Evangelist

William W. Combs1

Few would question the prominent role played by “evangelists” in the history of fundamentalism—men like Bob Jones, Sr., for example. Jones was apparently fond of saying: “It takes evangelistic unction to make orthodoxy function.”2 Likewise, it would be difficult to write one page in the history of new evangelicalism without bringing up the name of Billy Graham. The “office” of evangelist is commonly accepted in fundamental and evangelical circles as a legitimate calling based on the teaching of Scripture. John R. Rice reminds us: “The calling of an evangelist is a holy calling, and it is a sin against God to talk against evangelists….”3 Rice adds that, in fact, evangelists are more important to the work of God than pastors and teachers.4 But can Rice’s viewpoint actually be sustained from God’s Word?

When one turns to the pages of Scripture, it turns out that the amount of material dealing with the evangelist is rather sparse. The word evangelist, the Greek εὐαγγελιστής, is used only three times in the NT:

On the next day we left and came to Caesarea, and entering the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, we stayed with him (Acts 21:8).5

And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers (Eph 4:11).

But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry (2 Tim 4:5).

So, we are told that Philip was an evangelist, evangelists have been given to the church, and Timothy was to do the work of an evangelist. But nowhere do we find a clear description of the evangelist’s proper ministry or the qualifications for this “office,” as we do with the office of pastor-elder-overseer.

This essay will attempt to grapple with the limited scriptural data in order to define, with as much precision as possible, the biblical role of the evangelist.


The latest edition of Bauer’s lexicon gives the meaning of εὐαγγελιστής<...

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